Ukrainian volunteer paramedic describes ‘hell’ of Russian captivity to US lawmakers

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia was leaving behind a trail of “dead everywhere” after a new mass grave was discovered on September 15 in Izyum, Kharkiv region, northeast Ukraine, recently liberated by Ukrainian forces.

“A mass burial of people was discovered in Izyum, Kharkiv region,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. “The necessary procedural actions have already started there.”

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“Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izyum,” Zelenskiy said, citing the names of other Ukrainian towns where authorities said retreating Russian troops left behind civilian mass graves and evidence of war crimes.

“Russia is leaving death behind everywhere and must be held responsible for it,” he said.

Zelenskiy did not give details on the number of bodies found but said more information should be available on September 16.

But Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said at least 440 bodies had been recovered from the site.

“Mass graves are discovered in Izyum after the (Russians) were liberated,” the ministry said. tweeted.

“The largest current burial site has 440 unmarked graves,” the ministry said.

Thousands of Russian troops fled Izyum last week after occupying the town and using it as a logistics hub in the Kharkiv region. They left behind large quantities of ammunition and equipment.

Earlier, Oleh Kotenko, the commissioner for missing persons under special circumstances, told RFE/RL that 20 to 25 bodies were initially found in the mass grave. He said it was a mass burial of Ukrainian soldiers.

Serhiy Bolvinov, the chief investigator of the Kharkiv region police, said: “Some died because of the artillery fire… Some died because of the air strikes.”

Ukrainian reports could not immediately be verified. There was no immediate comment from Russia, which denies targeting civilians.

Zelenskiy traveled to Izyum on September 14 and took part in a ceremony raising the Ukrainian flag over the liberated town, one of the largest recaptures by Ukrainian troops in a recent lightning counteroffensive in eastern country.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces repelled three Russian attacks north of the city of Donetsk, the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said in a Facebook post.

Sea-based missiles also targeted areas in the Odessa region but were destroyed by anti-aircraft units, he added.

Russian forces launched attacks on several settlements on the Kharkiv frontline, the Ukrainian military said.

In its daily intelligence bulletin, the British Ministry of Defense said on September 16 that after more than six months of war, “the impact of Russia’s manpower challenge has become increasingly serious,” prompting the Russian private military company Vagner Group, linked to the Kremlin, to try to recruit Russians. sentenced for service in Ukraine “since at least July”.

English information bulletin said convicts were being offered a commutation of their sentences as well as cash incentives.

The bulletin says Russian military academies are shortening training courses and advancing cadet graduation dates. “It’s almost certainly so that the cadets can be deployed to support the operation in Ukraine,” he said.

On the diplomatic front, Zelenskiy met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on September 15 as he seeks to give political impetus to Ukraine’s recent military gains and push for Ukraine to acquire air defense systems.

Zelenskiy stressed the need for progress in talks with Ukraine’s partners for air defense systems later in his evening speech.

“We already have agreements with some countries [and] our diplomats work with others,” he said.

Late on September 15, the White House announced $600 million in additional military aid to Ukraine as the United States prepares to support the Kyiv counteroffensive.

A White House memo said US President Joe Biden would use his Presidential Withdrawal Authority, which allows him to authorize the transfer of weapons from US stockpiles.

The aid consists of equipment and services, as well as training, the White House said in a statement. He did not provide further details on the type of weapons.

With reports from AP and Reuters

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